The Emory student newspaper, the Emory Wheel, says there were seven rapes reported in September and October, all by female students. One of the incidents occurred in the spring.
CBS Atlanta is reporting that the seven students told counselors that they were sexually assaulted by acquaintances and did not want to initiate investigations, but preferred to remain anonymous.
When I read these sorts of stories, I wonder if we are doing enough to educate young women and men about sexual assaults and about the role of alcohol. The Emory Wheel account does not address alcohol, but statistically there is a good chance it played a role in some of these assaults.
In a controversial 2004 report, the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, Saint Joseph’s University and the University of Arizona found that one in 20 (4.7 percent) women reported being raped in college since the beginning of the school year – a period of approximately 7 months – and nearly three-quarters of those rapes (72 percent) happened when the victims were so intoxicated they were unable to consent or refuse.
The study found that women from colleges with medium and high binge-drinking rates had more than a 1.5-fold increased chance of being raped while intoxicated than those from schools with low binge- drinking rates. Other significant risk factors for rape were being under 21 years old, white, residing in sorority houses, using illicit drugs and binge drinking in high school.
When it was published, the study was criticized by women’s health advocates for focusing too much on the victim’s behavior rather than that of the rapist. Their position: The focus must remain on the person who commits the rape and so should the responsibility.
I thought the best comment on the study’s implications came from one of the authors:
“This study points to an urgent need for more alcohol prevention programs on campuses, along with sexual assault education,” said Mary P. Koss, Ph.D., professor of public health at the University of Arizona and a co-author of the study. “Men need education about what constitutes rape, and women should be better informed of strategies to avoid risky situations. Previous research shows that more women get raped while under the influence of alcohol than under the influence of any other so-called ‘date rape’ drug, such as GHB and Rohypnol.”
Seven instances of rape have been reported in September and October of this year. Three took place in residence halls at Clairmont Campus, two in fraternity houses on Eagle Row and one in Harris Hall. An act of aggravated sodomy took place at an unknown location on campus.
All of the student victims were female, and most of the instances of rape occurred between August and October 2012, with the exception of one case that took place in spring 2011.
According to Emory Police Department (EPD) Lieutenant Cheryl Elliott, the two incidents of rape in fraternity houses took place at Sigma Nu and Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi).
In response to the allegations, the Sigma Nu fraternity wrote the following statement: “We at Sigma Nu take these allegations of rape very seriously. This is the first we have heard of this incident, and we plan to cooperate fully with the Emory Police Department and Emory University in their investigation. Our organization does not condone activities like this and intends to help the Emory Police Department ensure that our campus is safe for all members of the community.”
In a statement to the Wheel, Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity wrote: “We, Alpha Epsilon Pi, take this very seriously and are deeply disturbed by this allegation because we do not condone this behavior. We intend to cooperate fully with any investigation in order to get to the facts.”
Goizueta Business School senior and Interfraternity Council President Victor Rudo wrote in an email to the Wheel: “The Emory Greek community is built around respect for others, and allegations of sexual assault in any form run contradictory to our core values. IFC and our member organizations will continue to work with SAPA, the Respect Program and others in preventing and responding to these incidents.”
In addition, Dean of Students Bridget Guernsey Riordan said that “no person should ever feel unsafe or have any violence [inflicted] upon himself or herself on the Emory campus. We will do everything we can to investigate and will follow this up through the proper conduct and police channels.”
Approximately one in four women and one in 33 men will experience sexual assault during their college career, according to Lauren Bernstein, coordinator of the Respect Program.
“Sexual assault is an epidemic, but at Emory we do not believe this is inevitable,” Bernstein wrote in an email to the Wheel. “The Respect Program’s mission is to engage the Emory community to prevent sexual assault and relationship violence, and we envision a campus in which no student fears or experiences violence. As members of our community, we each have a role in ending sexual violence and supporting survivors.”
Bernstein added that the fact that students are reporting these incidents does not necessarily mean there is an increase in the number of rapes on campus, but that more students are coming forward.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog